Harriet Bright in a Pickle (9 page)

BOOK: Harriet Bright in a Pickle
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Secret agent BUSINESS

Harriet Bright, Secret Agent got up very early the next morning.

She packed her school bag carefully with her secret agent stuff:






underwater pen












false eyebrows, moustache, beanie, sunglasses, blonde wig, golf hat






Vegemite sandwiches, dried apricots, muesli
bar, apple. (It was hungry work keeping a secret, thought Harriet Bright. Melly Fanshawe must be starving!)

She put on the golf hat and sunglasses. Then she walked slowly to school.

She was on the lookout for suspicious people, shifty-eyed dogs and secret notes that may have been dropped accidentally in the street.

‘Morning, Harriet,' said Mrs Bobbin. She lived in the brick house next to Mr Hazel.

‘Hello, Mrs Bobbin,' said Harriet Bright as calmly as she could. (It was amazing! Mrs Bobbin had seen right through her disguise!)

Harriet Bright, Secret Agent adjusted her glasses, pulled the hat down over her ears, and hurried on.

When she reached the school gates, she checked her watch.

It was 8.45 am.

She crouched behind a bush and waited for Melly Fanshawe to arrive.

‘Hello, Harriet,' said Melly Fanshawe as she got off the bus. ‘Why are you hiding in the bush wearing sunglasses and a funny hat?'

‘Oh, hello, Melly,' said Harriet Bright, standing up quickly. (A secret agent had to think on her feet.) ‘I was just searching for a Himalayan butterfly. Mrs Glossia said they hibernate in bushes just like this in the winter.'

‘But it's summer,' said Melly Fanshawe.

‘Well,' said Harriet Bright, ‘it's a very long way to the Himalayas. I thought one of them might have got lost.'

‘I love butterflies,' said Melly Fanshawe. ‘Can I look too?'

‘No,' said Harriet Bright. ‘I've searched the whole bush and there's
hiding there!'

Harriet Bright tried to sound like herself.

But it wasn't easy.

She wanted to scream:

I REALLY AND TRULY NEED TO KNOW,' at the top of her voice.

But Harriet Bright, Secret Agent had a mission: to watch Melly Fanshawe very closely all day.

This was going to be easy because they always sat next to each other in class.

While they were doing maths, Harriet Bright kept one eye on her notebook and one eye on Melly Fanshawe.

Melly Fanshawe was trying to work out an equation that Mrs Glossia had written on the blackboard:

thought Harriet Bright, Secret Agent. Could this be in code? 4+9 equals 13 and 13 could be the date or the number of a house or the number of people or –

‘Harriet Bright's cheating,' yelled Paul Picklebottom from the back of the class.

‘Am not!'
said Harriet Bright indignantly, going very red in the face as everyone stared at her.

‘Are too!' said Paul Picklebottom. ‘I saw you looking at Melly Fanshawe's notebook.'

said Harriet Bright. ‘I was just doing my eye exercises.' Then she opened her eyes really wide and moved them from left to right and up and down to show the class what she meant.

‘The human eye has six muscles,' she said, ‘and they all need to be exercised regularly.
people don't know that.'

‘Yes, thank you, Harriet, that's very interesting,' said Mrs Glossia. ‘But eyes to the front now, everyone, please.'

At lunchtime, Harriet Bright saved a seat for Melly Fanshawe. They always sat next to each other at lunch.

But Melly Fanshawe walked right past Harriet Bright and sat next to Reece Thomas!

‘I'm getting a guinea pig,' said Melly Fanshawe as she opened her lunchbox. ‘I'm going to call her Henrietta the Third.'

‘I had a guinea pig once,' said Reece Thomas. ‘He ran away from home with my brother's mouse. I think they caught a ship to South America. That's where guinea pigs come from.'

Harriet Bright looked at Melly Fanshawe and Reece Thomas. She didn't have a guinea pig.

She didn't know what they ate for dinner, or how it really tickled when they nibbled your little finger.

Maybe Melly Fanshawe wanted a best friend in the whole world who knew about guinea pigs?

Harriet Bright felt so glum she couldn't even finish her sandwich. She got up to put her rubbish in the bin.

And then Harriet Bright, Secret Agent saw something

Melly Fanshawe whispering to Reece Thomas.

Then Reece Thomas wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to Melly Fanshawe.

A secret note!

Harriet Bright, Secret Agent could hardly believe it.

She rushed back to the classroom. Thoughts were ex
ing in her head.

She got out her Secret Agent notebook. ‘Henrietta the Third,' she repeated to herself, writing the words down:


Maybe there's a secret message hidden in these words, thought Harriet Bright, Secret Agent:

HE (and) N(could be someone's name) R(are) I(in) E(?) T(?) T(this) A(afternoon)

ET, thought Harriet Bright. What could that mean?

It's all starting to make much more sense, thought Harriet Bright, Secret Agent. And
happening this afternoon.

She looked up as Melly Fanshawe walked into the classroom. It was time to test her theory.

‘Do you want to come to my house after school, Melly?' said Harriet Bright. ‘We could finish our cloud project together.'

‘Sorry, Harriet,' said Melly Fanshawe. ‘I can't today. I've got something to do after school.'

‘Oh,' said Harriet Bright.

thought Harriet Bright, Secret Agent.

As Melly Fanshawe got a pen out of her pencil case, a piece of paper fell on the floor.

It was the secret note.
A real-live clue!

Harriet Bright waited until Melly Fanshawe asked Mrs Glossia a question, then she bent over and picked up the note.

It wasn't easy to read because Reece Thomas had
messy handwriting:

The BIG balloon

‘A balloon shop!'
gasped Harriet Bright in horror.

It was worse than she had ever expected.

Balloons could mean only one thing:

Melly Fanshawe was having a party … without
Harriet Bright!

Harriet Bright walked home very slowly after school, dragging her Secret Agent school bag in the dust.

By the time she arrived home, she had the saddest face in the whole world.

‘What's wrong, Harriet?' asked her mother.

said Harriet Bright.

‘Why don't you break it down a little and tell me the biggest thing?' said her mother.

‘Melly Fanshawe is having a party and she hasn't asked me,' said Harriet Bright. ‘I think this means we're not best friends in the whole world anymore. I think Reece Thomas is her new best friend. They talk about guinea pigs all the time. Can we get a guinea pig, please, Mum?'

‘Well, I'd love to but, unfortunately, your father's allergic to short-haired rodents with small eyes and horrid big teeth,' said Harriet Bright's mother. ‘And I wouldn't be so sure that Melly isn't your best friend anymore.' She smiled. ‘Things often aren't as bad as they seem. They can go from bad to worse to terrible and then shoot back up to really wonderful all in the same second. Why don't you write a poem? That will cheer you up.'

‘But it'll be a sad poem,' said Harriet Bright.

‘That's okay,' said her mother. ‘Sometimes sad poems are the best ones. They're full of feeling.'

Harriet Bright didn't feel full of feeling.

She felt all hollow inside.

Like she was far away from home with a very empty stomach.

Today I'm feeling very sad

and I may not ever again be glad.

The phone rang downstairs. Harriet Bright could hear her mother speaking very softly. Then her mother called to her. ‘I'm just popping out in the car, Harriet. Why don't you come with me?'

said Harriet Bright in a quiet voice. She could think of more unhappy things to put in her poem on the way.

They drove past Mr Beatty's shop. Harriet Bright looked at the LOST AND FOUND
noticeboard outside with photos of happy cats before they got lost and had no friends.

I could put an ad there, thought Harriet Bright. Under
Mr Hazel found someone to mow his lawn by doing that. And Mrs Bobbin found a penpal in Botswana. Maybe I could find a new best friend in the whole world.

Harriet Bright slumped further in her seat.

She didn't want a new best friend in the whole world.

She wanted the one she already had.

Harriet Bright's mother stopped the car. Harriet Bright had been so busy thinking, she hadn't even noticed where they were going.

They were outside Melly Fanshawe's house.

‘What are we doing here?' said Harriet Bright.

‘Melly's mother rang and asked us to call in,' said her mother. ‘We won't be long.'

They got out of the car and knocked on the door of Melly Fanshawe's house.

Melly Fanshawe's mother opened the door with a big smile.

‘Hello,' she said. ‘Perfect timing. Come in.'

Harriet Bright walked inside and saw –


And a table covered with a pink polka-dotted tablecloth.

And a plate of cupcakes with raspberry icing.

And lollies and green cordial.

And a
really huge
chocolate cake, decorated with icing sugar and hundreds and thousands.

shouted Melly Fanshawe, jumping out from behind the couch.

‘What is it?' said Harriet Bright.

‘It's a party!' said Melly Fanshawe.

‘What kind of party?' said Harriet Bright.

‘It's a best-friend-in-the-whole-world afternoon tea party,' said Melly Fanshawe.

‘So it's a party –
for ME?'
shouted Harriet Bright.

said Melly Fanshawe. ‘It's Best Friend's Day today! Like Mother's Day and Father's Day and Left-Hander's Day, only much much better. It can be any day of the week.'

‘Really and truly?' asked Harriet Bright.

‘Yes,' said Melly Fanshawe. ‘Mum made a chocolate cake yesterday so she said I needed a special occasion to eat it.'

‘So Reece Thomas isn't your new best friend?' asked Harriet Bright.

‘Oh no,' said Melly Fanshawe. ‘Boys are smelly.' She paused. ‘But sometimes they know really excellent balloon shops.'

was the secret?' said Harriet Bright.

Melly Fanshawe nodded. ‘And I kept it all to myself. Mum said if you can keep a secret then the surprise is even bigger and better!'

And it was true, because all at once Harriet Bright felt very happy.

Melly Fanshawe was still her very best friend in the whole world and this


was the

she had



BOOK: Harriet Bright in a Pickle
6.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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